How Do You Respond When Your Team Loses?

Frustration, anger, disappointment, embarrassment; these are all feelings that stir up in any good sports fan as he watches his team lose a big game. These were my feelings as I yelled at the TV, threw my hate in the floor and finally resigned myself to accepting defeat on January 7th. My Ohio State Buckeyes, yet again, lost in the BCS Championship Game, this time to LSU. It felt like a replay of last year’s even more embarrassing devastation delivered to us by Florida. But the defeat did get me to wondering: what is the right way for Christians to respond when their sport’s team loses?

It’s not easy to accept defeat, nor to endure the embarrassment and shame that come along with it. Everyone hates to see their team lose, but the world has a particular view on sports that eats into the very heart of a person. When you say that an individual bleeds blue (like a Kentucky Wildcat fans), or when you become known and labeled as “The Buckeye Guy” you have moved beyond being a simple fan of your team. Men become obsessed with sports, and consequently with their teams. There is a degree of “loyalty” to which some fans go that is far beyond any right enjoyment in sports and any right delight in their teams. Why do fans shoot referees, why do men curse and swear and hold grudges when their teams lose? Why do some fans react in full on heartbroken tears and sobbing over the loss of Ohio State to LSU? I honestly don’t know the answer, but I know that it is not the type of reaction becoming of a Christian.

We are to be consumed by the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to “bleed” Scripture. We are to love and adore Christ. Being a Buckeye fan is fine. Getting frustrated at your teams loss is understandable. Reacting with bitterness, hurt, and rage over that loss, however, is idolatry. There is a point at which team devotion becomes team worship. It is an obsession that can hurt our evangelism, to be sure, but even more than that it can hurt our own spiritual growth. It is an obsession that can turn our hearts more and more to the things of this world and away from the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course sports aren’t alone in this temptation, but when I watch a game like I watched last night and I respond in the way I responded I sense it as more present and more prominent. Perhaps this is why God orchestrated OSU’s loss yesterday: to teach me a lesson about my own heart. If such is true then I am grateful for their defeat. Maybe next year God will be more inclined to teach someone on a different team this lesson!

About Dave Dunham
  • Alan Noble

    I don’t like any sports, at all, but I can completely relate. When I’m in a close game at Halo 3 and my team loses I have to genuinely put myself in check to make sure that the loss doesn’t effect my outlook and my attitude. It’s “just a game,” but if we’re not careful these events can truly become idols.

    I’m sorry to hear of your loss.

  • David Dunham

    Thanks Alan, your support will help to get me threw this! ;)

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    “Getting frustrated at your teams loss is understandable.”

    I guess.

    I really don’t have the I-associate-myself-with-strangers-to-the-point-where-their-mistake-is-my-mistake gene. I can become frustrated with myself when I hit a pop fly straight into the left-fielder’s mitt or pull too much aggro and wipe the entire group in a tough instance. Frustration or dismay at my own weaknesses, I can understand. But frustration with other people for their errors – especially when they bear no direct relevance to me? I don’t think I’ll ever understand the sport zealot’s mindset.

  • David Dunham

    Your probably just a better man than I, but there’s something really wonderful about having a team that you can cheer for consistently and enjoy regularly. And even though we loss there’s something about connecting with your team even in that loss. You feel like part of the team, I suppose…and that’s what I like about it.

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    I’m not sure it makes me better – just that I wasn’t born with the spectator-sports gene and so have no idea what makes one become a fan. I’d say it was right up there with menstruation for me, but at least there I can understand the science behind it. Sports fanaticism is so completely foreign to me that I don’t even know where to begin.

  • http://www.benbartlett.blogspot.com Ben Bartlett

    Don’t worry, Dave, I understand perfectly. I’m a sports fanatic, and I have a hard time staying civil when my Spartans or Tigers lose. Thanks for the post!

  • Geoffrey Seven

    The Promise Keepers only thought they invented the idea of men praying and weeping in stadiums. When the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup for the first time in decades in 1997, my brother and I were in tears at the sheer grit and determination and scrappiness and heroism of it all. I believe some of the qualities of our sports teams can give us important ideas about building Christlike character. And then, as the big doping scandal in MLB shows, those same heroes can serve as a reminder that we are all sinners, saved by grace.

  • David Dunham

    Well put Geoffrey

  • Geoffrey Seven

    Well thanks! Who are you guys, anyway? I found this site by accident — googling Christ and pop culture. Those are two subjects that I think about a lot. Hope it is okay for me to post a thought now and again.

  • David Dunham

    It’s great if you post a thought as often as you’d like. Christ & Pop Culture is set up for guys just like you who think about those two subjects. We have a staff that writes articles, and a podcast (though its on hold temporarily), but the comments are open to anyone. So stop by anytime you’d like and tell your friends!


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